CFI Research Fellows Program

CFI Research Fellows Program

Addressing the most pressing questions facing the financial inclusion community


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Addressing the big, unanswered questions in financial inclusion

Launched in July 2015, the CFI Research Fellows Program encourages independent researchers and analysts to systematically examine some of the most important challenges in financial inclusion. Each year, we announce the research agenda in the form of a request for proposals, vet proposals for tackling the subject, and announce a new cohort of fellows. The Program affords fellows the opportunity to perform research, analysis, or writing on an important topic, and to share insights and recommendations broadly with the financial inclusion community.

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Research Agenda

Our 2019 research agenda focuses on APIs, G2P payments and workplace financial health interventions.

Financial institutions of all sizes are finding that fintech partnerships can help them reach underserved customer segments. These partnerships frequently involve the use of APIs to create the necessary connections and data sharing between fintech and financial institution. However, it may be especially challenging for smaller financial institutions to benefit from such connections. For these providers in particular, knowledge of the landscape of APIs, including their costs and benefits, is critical to their ability to remain competitive.

How do financial institutions use APIs and bespoke partnerships to collaborate effectively with fintechs to reach the underserved? How do recent efforts to create more accessible APIs function? Which models are working well? CFI Fellow Dan Kleinbaum is taking on these questions.

Dan’s research will help financial service providers and investors better understand APIs—their types, costs, and benefits—knowledge they need to thrive in a competitive marketplace.

With millions of people worldwide receiving G2P payments, the potential for this scheme to serve as an on-ramp for financial inclusion is great. However, as 2016 CFI Fellow Guy Stuart demonstrated, G2P schemes often fall short of this goal, serving largely as mere payment repositories instead of a tool for economic advancement.

How can financial institutions provide a set of accounts and services for G2P recipients in a profitable way? CFI Fellow Larry Reed will explore this question.

Larry’s research will provide insight from the supply-side perspective, looking at the incentives, costs and ability of financial institutions to build an on-ramp that turns G2P recipients into long-term, productive customers.

The workplace offers a trusted conduit to engaging and guiding people on how to better manage their finances, and improving employee financial health is good for workers as well as the business. Yet many organizations do not include financial well-being in their employee assistance/well-being programs.

How can employers in Australia enable financial health for their employees? Fulbright Visiting Scholar Vinita Godinho will explore this question.

Workplace-led financial wellness programs have been implemented in the United States, Canada and some European countries – what can Australia learn from their experience? What has worked, what has not worked, and why? How can these lessons be embedded into employee financial health program design, so that Australian organizations can benefit from the global experience?

CFI Fellow Leon Perlman presents findings from his report, Technology Inequality: Opportunities and Challenges for Mobile Financial Services, in April 2017.
CFI Fellow Leon Perlman presents findings from his report, Technology Inequality: Opportunities and Challenges for Mobile Financial Services, in April 2017.

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